Living Well With Stress

I heard an intriguing Ted Talk recently by Kelly McGonigle entitled, “Making Stress Your Friend”. McGonigle is a psychologist who spent the better part of her career trying to get her clients to reduce their stress level. She did this until she came across some shocking research that made her change her whole treatment approach. Here are some salient points from her talk:

  • Research shows that it is the belief that stress is bad for you that impacts life expectancy, not stress itself.
  • Stress helps us get what we need for a life of connection. Oxytocin is a hormone that moves us to reach out to others for support. This wonderful byproduct of getting help and support happens because we get stressed and our body releases it!
  • When you reach out to others for support or support others, you make your stress response healthier.
  • Research also affirms that people who spend time caring for others have no increased risk of death even if they report having many stressful experiences in their lives.

What are the implications? If we believe ourselves to be weak, frail, and unable to cope with the stresses in our lives, then we will be weaker, more frail, and less able to thrive in times of stress. We may even die. If we understand the great mystery of God’s design of our bodies as able to sustain us in times of stress, then we can thrive even when stress is high. Our bodies are designed to take us through times of stress.

I often hear clients say that they cannot handle things, usually their strong emotions. I know there was a time I believed that myself. But you know what? I did handle it. A not so subtle lie has entered into our psyches: Strong or negative emotions will do me in. A more accurate statement would be: My beliefs about strong or negative emotions will do me in. We are created to contain a vast, profound, deep, and very intense array of emotions. Our growth in this life is not to tap down the strength of our emotions, but rather, to understand our capacity to experience our emotions as expandable and adaptive.

What we believe really does matter.

Listen to the compelling Ted talk here.

2 comments


  • Rob zeigler

    Thanks Janice. I couldn’t agree more. Looking forward to watching the Ted Talk.

    January 23, 2014
  • Kathleen

    Absolutely. It’s our beliefs about the emotions. Ohhh. I see it every day with women in their closets, and know it for myself. Well said, Janice.

    January 23, 2014

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